When the apocalypse started, I went to IKEA.
I knew the world was going to end as soon as we touched down in Denver, but I caught my connecting flight anyway. I didn’t want to die in Colorado.
When we landed in Portland, I walked down to Cascade Station, keeping an eye out for somewhere to spend my final days. My options were: Supercuts, Jersey Mike’s, Jamba Juice, Leatherman, Banana Republic, WOW Burger, and IKEA. I would have taken the easy way out, but there was a line at Supercuts.
I passed Leatherman as I approached IKEA, dragging my rolling suitcase behind me. Leatherman had all sorts of tools that could be useful in the coming apocalypse, but IKEA had the VÖRDA meat cleaver, black ($16.99). They also had those little meatballs, and I was feeling a bit peckish.
I started to second-guess myself as soon as I saw the crowd. Of course there was a crowd. IKEA was defensible, comfortable, and well-stocked. In addition to knives, there were textiles if we had to resort to making our own clothes. Småland had free diapers, which could be used as bandages. There was food, both perishable and frozen. Those little meatballs.
Fortunately, IKEA was also large enough to hold a crowd, although I anticipated fights over the demo bedrooms before someone established order. Maybe if I established order, I could get a bed. I have a bad back.
I didn’t see many old people. That was noble of them, sacrificing resources so the youth could survive. There were young parents with children, couples, and college students. A college student bumped into me, and for a second, I thought he had one of the ten plagues, but it turned out to be acne.
They were all lined up neatly outside the store. Someone else must have already established order. What a shame.
I got in line behind a pregnant woman. She ignored me, straining to hear something an IKEA employee was shouting at the crowd. I missed the announcement, but I caught the woman’s muttered response.
She couldn’t be talking about survivors. The apocalypse had barely started. Maybe she was talking about how many people they could take.
“Surely they can do better than that?” I engaged her in polite conversation. Anarchy and cannibalism would surely manifest in the coming months, but we had to maintain our humanity for as long as possible.
“I know. With all that stock? Have you seen the size of their self-serve area?”
“I think they have the Ark of the Covenant in there somewhere,” I said, “but I’m sure we can clear it out if we need the room. My name’s Peter, but the way.”
“Monica,” she said. “Funny. Have you heard if there are any TV units left?”
“You’re already thinking about looting?” Anarchy was breaking out right before my eyes.
“The deals aren’t that good.” Monica gestured vaguely at the crowd. “It barely seems worth it.”
“Don’t say that,” I urged her. “It’s always worth fighting for.”
“Not literally, I hope.” Monica rubbed her bulging stomach. Poor child, born into this world. If it was so lucky.
“How long have you been here?” I asked.
“Only about a half an hour. It’s not that bad.”
“Monica,” I said, “People have died.”
“Yeah, but only at, like, Wal-Mart.” She shrugged. “If they shop at Wal-Mart, they’re kind of asking for it. I hear someone got trampled in Jersey.”
“It’s in Jersey?” How could it have traveled so fast?
“It’s… all over America.”
Monica looked alarmed. “Don’t cry.”
She was right. I had to be strong for the women and children.
Lucy Mihajlich lives in Portland, Oregon, with her cat and IKEA STOCKHOLM coffee table. She just released her first novel, Interface.
Help us keep the daily stories coming with Patreon.